As much fun as identifying the next breakout player can be, experienced fantasy owners know that avoiding busts can be even more crucial to their success. Steer clear of these guys in your draft this year:
Many owners have fond memories of Ellsbury. The outfielder was an absolute monster in 2011, hitting .321/.376/.522 with 32 homers, 39 steals, and topping the century mark in both runs and RBI. The sudden power spike predictably turned out to be fool’s gold; Ellsbury has left the yard 36 times in the four seasons since. More troubling is that he’s also seen his stolen based total decline from 52 to 21 during that time, and hit above .271 just once. His continued health issues and advancing age are the obvious culprits, and don’t bode well for a rebound. Oh, and he posted the lowest contact rates of his career last season, in terms of both quantity and quality.
Yelich is only 24, and given his prospect pedigree and obvious physical gifts, it’s easy to fall in love with his potential. He already hits for average, steals bases, and shows a good grasp of the strike zone. He’s also been astonishingly consistent for such a young player. If he could just tap into his pop, he’d be a true fantasy star. Alas, Yelich simply doesn’t elevate the ball enough to expect a power surge; his 61.9% ground ball rate is the highest in baseball over the last three seasons. It’s certainly possible to sacrifice contact for power (we saw this last year with Matt Carpenter), and doing so might make Yelich more valuable. But be careful not to overpay for adjustments he hasn’t yet proven he can make.
Entering last season, Teheran was a fairly hot fantasy commodity. He’d just posted a 2.89 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in his age-24 season, and most expected continued success. However, there were red flags. He’d lost nearly three MPH on his fastball since breaking into the majors in 2011, an alarming trend for any pitcher, but particularly for one ostensibly in his physical prime. Teheran’s flyball-heavy profile seemed dangerous given this loss of velocity and the questionable outfield defense behind him.
While Teheran was indeed a disappointment in 2015, didn’t go exactly as one might have anticipated. He actually allowed more grounders than flies for the first time in his career, but continued to be vulnerable to the long ball. More surprisingly, his BB% spiked by nearly three percentage points. The cause was fairly simple – hitters simply stopped chasing as much. Teheran’s O-Swing% fell from 33.2% to 28.7%.
Teheran did show some signs of improvement in the second half, as better pitch selection helped his strikeout rate rebound. His issues with limiting the free passes and homers persisted, however. With the Braves expected to be a doormat once again this season, wins will be tough to come by even if he can reverse troubling trends – no sure thing.
Kyle Bishop is a lead MLB columnist at RotoBaller.com, your secret weapon for winning fantasy leagues